Monday, April 2, 2007

Schwarzenegger Sunday: Twins

For an overview of Schwarzenegger Sunday, check out the Marching Orders above. Note – there will always be spoilers.

Arnold plays Julius Benedict, the outcome of a genetic experiment in which the sperm of six male athletes, scholars, and geniuses were used to impregnate young Mary Ann Benedict with the goal of creating the world’s most genetically gifted human being. Immediately after his birth, Julius was sent to a remote island to work with a scientist who raised, trained and loved him. On his 35th birthday, the professor informs Julius that he has a twin brother in Los Angeles. Julius determines that he must go find his brother. That brother is Vincent (Danny DeVito), a small-time crook who is nearing the end of his rope. Julius bails Vincent out of jail, proceeds to convince him that they are indeed twin brothers, protects him from the thuggish Klane Brothers, and begins a quest to find out of their mother is actually alive. In the meantime, Vincent has stolen a car which happens to contain an engine worth five million dollars on the black market. He plans to sell the engine on a detour. In other meantime, Vincent has been dating a woman named Linda. Her sister, Marnie, falls for Julius. After confronting the doctor who oversaw the initial experiment and calling him a dickhead, the foursome goes to where they believe their mother lives. Having been previously told that the baby died in childbirth, Mary Ann refuses to meet with Vincent and Julius. Vincent goes to Houston on his own to sell the engine. After collecting the money, the man who was originally supposed to make the delivery tries to kill Vincent, but Julius arrives just in time, utilizing some sort of Tomax and Xamot-esque twinsense. Julius saves Vincent’s life, they kill the gunman, and return the engine to the authorities. Mary Ann sees the story in the paper and comes to their office to reunite. Some time later, the twins have married the sisters and each produced a set of twins themselves, to form one big, happy family.

Quality of “Ahnold” lines: This is a comedy in which Julius is playing it straight. He has some truly hilarious moments, but everything is in-character. There are some great lines that won’t look so impressive here, but Arnold delivers them extremely well. “Yakkety Yak! Don’t talk back! Don’t talk back!” “I did nothing! The pavement was his enemy.” “Next time you should really consider wearing helmets.” “I don’t know what the problem is, but I’m sure it can be solved without resorting to violence. You moved too soon. Now the first rule in a crisis situation, you negotiate first and attack last. You have no respect for logic. And I have no respect for people with no respect for logic. You’re a very stupid person.” “This is Vincent’s car, can I help you please?” “I’ve only been driving an hour!” 6
Plethora of “Ahnold” lines: There are only so many lines here, and DeVito gets a bunch of them, the best being, “Oh obviously! The moment I sat down I thought I was looking into a mirror.” And again, they are not “classic” Arnold material because this is a comedy. 4

“I’ll be back.”: When Vincent and Julius track down the doctor who performed the experiment, he gives them a hard time, trying to dismiss them immediately. In a fit of rage, Julius breaks down his office door and physically confronts him. He demands Mary Ann’s address. After the doctor gives him the information, he tells him, “If you’re lying to me, I’ll be back.” 6
Smarmy Villain: The smarmiest person in the movie is easily Dr. Mitchell Traven, played by Nehemiah Persoff who has mostly appeared in TV cameos. He is the man behind the lies that have kept Vincent, Julius, and Mary Ann apart for 35 years. When Vincent and Julius arrive, he callously tries to shoo them off. After being found out, he then proceeds to levy insults and scorn on Vincent. But it’s not like Julius wasn’t warned. One of his fathers told him that Dr. Traven was a “dickhead.” 7

Rough and Tumble Henchman: Webster, the planned delivery man for the stolen engine, is played by Marshall Bell. You may recall that I disparaged his wife during the Oscar First Blush, for which I am still feeling guilty. He is a somewhat fearsome character, cool as he is heartless. He has no problem offing his business partners simply because they’ve seen his face. Bell plays him perfectly, but he’s not really a henchman, but rather a rogue agent out for himself. 5

Diminutive Sidekick: Is there any way I can give this a 40??? Danny DeVito is listed at 5’0”, but that may be an overestimation. In any event, you can’t really think of a shorter adult to put alongside Schwarzenegger. 10 Interesting to note – there is a scene where Vincent shows Julius how to dance. The same year, Rain Man had a similar scene. I wonder who ripped whom off…

Rejected hot love interest: Julius is awfully friendly and rarely rejects anyone in any way. n/a

Not nearly hot enough love interest: Marnie is played by Kelly Preston, pretty much at her peak. An at-peak Kelly Preston certainly does not qualify as “not nearly hot enough.” However, she and Linda wear an array of extremely questionable outfits. What the hell was going on in 1988? n/a

Arnold yelling: There is the line where he hollers, “For the first time in my life, I’m… PISSED OFF!” But the classic yell occurs the first time he really hits the gas when driving Vincent’s car: “Yyyyyaaaaaaaaaahhhyayluuuuuuuuuh!” 9

Arnold cursing: Again, this is a comedy, so his curses are going to be there to show his naiveté, not to make a key plot impact. When he asks Vincent how to help him get out of prison, Vincent tells him, “Yeah, well money talks and bullshit walks.” Julius’ response: “How can bullshit walk? That’s slang, huh?” 4

Arnold crazyface: I wasn’t sure if we were going to do better than the stunned happiness he displays after Marnie “makes him a man”:
But this is a darn good one 9
Superfluous Explosions: Very disappointing on this front. To intimidate Vincent, the Klane brothers throw some sort of explosive through his window. 3
Director: Ivan Reitman is probably best known for Ghostbusters, but he did manage to work with Arnold again on Kindergarten Cop and Junior. He also snagged Arnold for a cameo in Dave. Incidentally, DeVito and Schwarzenegger were offered the chance to do this movie or Suburban Commando. Which means if they had chosen the other film, this one would have starred Hulk Hogan and Christopher Lloyd. No joke.

Franco Columbu: n/a

Sven Ole-Thorsen: In the briefest of cameos, Sven plays “Sam Klane”, one of the Klane brothers’ cousins. He’s on screen for at most two seconds. 4
Shirtless Arnold: Julius goes topless early and often. This begins when he rows 25 miles to the nearest island with an airport, but continues when Marnie surprises him after he’s just finished a shower. He also disrobes in the middle of a gas-station mini-mart. Finally, he’s of course topless in Arnold’s first on-screen love scene. 10

We also get a topless DeVito…
Severely brutal killing of rough and tumble henchman: Webster is crushed under a gigantic pile of metal chains. Is it severe? Not really? Is it brutal? I suppose. 3

Even more severely brutal killing of villain: Traven is neither killed nor brutalized. However, Mary Ann Benedict does visit his office and punch him out. n/a

Plausibly implausible plot: Man, I don’t know where to begin here. OK, first of all there’s the whole experiment. They are somehow taking the DNA of six different men and smushing them together into one cohesive set of genetic code. However, they’re doing this in 1953. Furthermore, Julius states that they are not identical, but Traven claims that the Zygote split which would mean that they are identical. Then we are to believe that all the people involved would let Traven be so maniacal in dealing with the situation and that they would back up all the lies he told everyone. We’re also expected to believe that both Vincent and Julius are only thirty-five years old. Finally, Vincent is apparently a gigantic ladies man, picking up chicks everywhere he goes despite the fact that he has no money, the worst hair ever, and is 5’0”. Somehow, some way we actually find ourselves buying into all of this. The one aspect of the movie that is too ridiculous to accept is the fact that Julius can use some sort of spidey sense to find Vincent in Houston aka the fourth largest city in the country. But on the whole, I found myself letting the movie get away with a lot. 8

Ambiguous ending: Everything is wrapped up in the end. I mean absolutely everything. I suppose the one outlying possibility is that Webster could somehow still be alive. But with that much metal crushing him, I’d say it’s rather unlikely. n/a

You know some of these Schwarzenegger films are not meeting my prior expectations – The Running Man being the most egregious. However, this movie is extremely enjoyable, even 19 years later. Arnold is intentionally hilarious, proving he is quite adept at comedy. He and DeVito work extremely well together, and somehow they manage to make the story somewhat touching. Really, I’m as shocked as you are. Sure, there are some things that are problematic. For instance, the music is as bad as the sunglasses: But there’s a reason this film is on TV nearly every week. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it. At the very least, you can learn how Quentin Tarantino chose the names for the two main characters in Pulp Fiction. Furthermore, it's a glimpse at a different side of Schwarzenegger.

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